She and the Outing
Although my husband gave me his love many times over that day, he released me relatively early in the night. The next morning, I isolated myself in the kitchen in order to make ohagi, having been filled with energy from last night’s restful sleep.
I chose ohagi because it was a popular standard menu confectionery in my Japanese café. I had realized Ms. Delris hadn’t eaten it yet, so I decided to make it.
Since she liked daifuku, she might like ohagi.
I always liked providing new things, thus I’d been working on it since this morning to make Ms. Delris happy.
“Master, are those ohagi?”
“Yes, they are.”
While I worked, needless to say, the cooks gathered around me. They immediately realized what I was making from glancing at my hands.
“I wanted to make a gift for someone older I’m grateful to.”
“I see. It’s true that older people take well to the red bean paste. I like it, too. Ah, Master, do these ohagi use the smooth bean paste? I’m a fan of the coarse bean paste, personally.”
“I also favor the coarse bean paste . However, I thought that they might like the smooth bean paste more. That’s all. I wonder if I should obliterate the filling rather than half-killing it, however.”
Everybody around me had stopped moving.
Had I said something strange? As I tilted my head, the cook I was addressing gingerly asked me.
“Master, um… What did you mean by half-killing and obliterating?”
When I understood the issue, I smiled and explained.
“Well see, there’s glutinous rice inside ohagi, right?”
“When the glutinous rice is crushed so there are still grains left, it’s called ‘half-killing’, and when there are no grains left, it’s ‘obliterated’. My Japanese café only offers ohagi ‘half-killed’, but obliterated is delicious too.”
“… Haa. That’s incredibly disturbing. But, I see, what we always eat is half-killed… is that it?”
Certainly, it had sounded a little disturbing when said aloud. I was also shocked when I first heard it, in my previous life.
I’d been a child at the time, but I’d found it fascinating for how unsettling it was, so I’ve never forgotten the phrasing.
“It’s always been on my mind, but you certainly know a lot of various things, Master. Is ohagi a regional specialty from somewhere?”
This world had many similarities to the culture from my previous life. So, ohagi might exist here, elsewhere, or it might not.
But at the very least, I was unaware of its existence here, so I could only answer, “Who knows?”
When he realized I wouldn’t answer, he looked resigned. I felt guilty for keeping multiple secrets, but for the time being, I had no intention of telling anybody but Freed about my past life.
I’d rather avoid the Crown Princess of Wilhelm seeming completely out of her mind.
“I’m sorry. But I really can’t say much about it.”
“Think nothing of it, I’m sure there are obligations of confidentiality. It’s me who should apologize.”
I was grateful that he easily backed down.
However, it was interesting how people’s tastes divided on this ohagi confectionery – also known as botamochi.
There was a smooth paste faction, and a coarse paste faction. Moreover, everybody was strangely particular about toppings, such as roasted soy flour or seaweed.
“I’m definitely in the coarse paste faction.”
“I like the smooth bean paste.”
“Roasted soy flour is the best though?”
And so on.
As an aside, at my Japanese café the type of ohagi offered was changed daily. When choosing ohagi, the regulars often asked about what ohagi was available on that day.
“I wonder if I should serve the ‘obliterated’ version in the Japanese café as well. It looks like everybody’s preferences are getting more and more divided.”
It could be interesting in its own way. While I was thinking this, the cooks nodded seriously at my preparations.
“For the time being, we’re incredibly interested in those “obliterated” ones. We’d love to try them at least once.”
“If that’s the case, then I’ll give you what’s left over.”
I wouldn’t bring Ms. Delris too many. I’d expected there to be leftovers from the get go, so their request was actually more of a favor they were doing for me than anything else.
When the cooks heard my answer, they posed victoriously.
Their happy reaction made me grin. Then I took out a wooden box I’d prepared earlier, and carefully placed the ohagi inside.
I made two types; one with smooth bean paste and the other with roasted soy flour. I thought their color was beautiful, and even if I was singing my own praises, they were quite skillfully made.
I put down the lid and, instead of a ribbon, tied a string with a lovely color around the box. I hoped Ms. Delris would be delighted and she’d enjoy them as much as the daifuku.
“Master, we can handle the cleaning. Since we’re getting the leftover ohagi, please let us do at least that much.”
“Really? Then I’ll take you up on that.”
As usual, I was grateful for their help. I left the kitchen carrying the ohagi box.
My husband was waiting for me outside the kitchen.
It seemed he didn’t go inside out of consideration for the cooks. When he – the Crown Prince – enters the kitchens, all the cooks become tense and jumpy, so he likely wanted to avoid that. When I ran up to him, Freed noticed the box in my hand and asked, “Is that a gift?”
“Yup! It is. I don’t think Ms. Delris has tried ohagi yet. Freed, you haven’t either, right?”
“Come to think of it, it’s the first time I’ve even heard of it.”
Freed didn’t do well with sweet things, so he hadn’t eaten much Japanese confectioneries.
However, considering his opinion on the things he’d tried so far… It didn’t seem like he hated red bean paste, so he might be fine with ohagi.
“Freed, I’ll make some for you next time. Would you eat them?”
“Lidi, I’ll eat anything you make.”
Freed answered without missing a beat. I knew he’d respond honestly with that, so I obediently said, “Thanks.”
I’d planned to swing by our shared room, but since Freed came here, we headed straight to where Ms. Delris was.
Maybe he’d also planned that, since he was dressed so as to not stand out, even when in public. In his hand, he was holding a jute bag that held flower seeds inside, the ones that Ms. Delris had requested of him.
She’d purposely given us a request to make it easier for Freed to visit her.
Ms. Delris was incredibly considerate in that way. However, the person herself would never admit it.
I knew she was a kind person, and that was enough for me.
After we passed through the castle gate, we met up with the black-eyed Cain. He wasn’t wearing Irvine clothes like he had been up until yesterday, but had his typical ‘ninja’ look.
Seeing that appearance for the first time in a while, I thought to myself, “Ooh.”
“You’re visiting granny, right?”
Fundamentally, Freed didn’t want any escorts, but he seemed fine with Cain joining us (probably because Cain wasn’t under his control and prioritized my safety above all else). When my brother noticed that in Irvine, he insistently demanded Cain to, “Please, escort those two.”
Cain had been unwilling to leave my side from the beginning, so he accepted easily and was allowed to openly be at our side.
“A while ago, Alex told me, ‘Keep an eye on those guys.’ And even if I hadn’t been asked, I’d come since I’m the Princess’s escort… but it’s much easier when I’m officially recognized.”
“That’s certainly true.”
It was also normal for Cain to go to Ms. Delris’s place (or rather, I sometimes wondered if he didn’t live there), and to begin with, there was little I had to hide from him. Freed didn’t complain about Cain either, so it worked for everyone.
I was known as the Crown Princess, so it seemed pointless to me, but Freed turned his hair black to stand out less.
We walked in a group of three – Freed and I holding hands, and Cain following behind us.
Although we often went out together, it felt refreshing to go to Ms. Delris’s place together with Freed.